ACC teams and athletes have claimed dozens of national championships in multiple sports throughout the conference's history. Generally, the ACC's top athletes and teams in any particular sport in a given year are considered to be among the top collegiate competitors in the nation. Also, the conference enjoys extensive media coverage. The ACC was one of the six collegiate power conferences, which had automatic qualifying for their football champion into the Bowl Championship Series (BCS). With the advent of the College Football Playoff in 2014, the ACC is one of five conferences with a contractual tie-in to a "New Year's Six" bowl game, the successors to the BCS.
The ACC was founded on May 8, 1953 by seven universities located in the South Atlantic States, with the University of Virginia joining in Early December 1953 to bring the membership to eight. The loss of South Carolina in 1971 dropped membership to seven, while the addition of Georgia Tech in 1979 for non-football sports and 1983 for football brought it back to eight, and Florida State's arrival in 1991 for non-football sports and 1992 for football increased the membership to nine. Since 2000, with the widespread reorganization of the NCAA, seven additional schools have joined, and one original member (Maryland) has left to bring it to the current membership of 15 schools. The additions in recent years extended the conference's footprint into the Northeast and Midwest.
ACC member universities represent a range of well-regarded private and public universities of various enrollment sizes, all of which participate in the Atlantic Coast Conference Academic Consortium whose purpose is to "enrich the educational missions, especially the undergraduate student experiences, of member universities".
The school was founded by Father Edward Sorin, CSC, who was also its first president, and even today many Holy Cross priests serve the school—most notably the president of the university. It was established as an all-male institution on November 26, 1842, on land donated by the Bishop of Vincennes, Indiana. The university first enrolled women undergraduates in 1972. As of 2012[update] about 47 percent of the student body was female. Notre Dame's Catholic character is reflected in its explicit commitment to the Catholic faith, numerous ministries funded by the school, and the architecture around campus. In 1962, Time called it one of the Catholic Ivy Universities in American Roman Catholic higher education.
The university today is organized into five colleges and one professional school, and its graduate program awards 32 master's and 25 doctoral degrees. Over 80% of the university's 8,000 undergraduates live on campus in one of 29 single-sex residence halls, each of which fields teams for more than a dozen intramural sports, and the university counts approximately 120,000 alumni.
Georgia Tech moved to the ACC in 1978 and began competition within the ACC in 1979.
The football team is traditionally the most popular at the Institute. The games are played at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field or simply The Flats, which is the oldest on-campus stadium in Division I FBS football. The stadium was expanded in recent years, increasing the maximum capacity to 55,000. he football team is in the top 20 winningest Division I-A programs and was the first team to win all four of the historical big four bowls - the Rose (1929), Orange (1940), Sugar (1944), and Cotton (1955). Georgia Tech has won four national titles in the years 1917 going 9-0 under John Heisman outscoring opponents 419-17, 1928 going 10-0 under William Alexander outscoring opponents 221-47, 1952 going 12-0 under Bobby Dodd outscoring opponents 325-59, and 1990 going 11-0-1 under Bobby Ross outscoring opponents 379-186.
Also a Shakespearean actor off the field, Heisman was known for his use of polysyllabic language in coaching. After a divorce in 1919, Heisman left Atlanta to prevent any social embarrassment to his former wife. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1954. The Heisman Trophy, awarded annually to the season's most outstanding college football player, is named after him.